Residents Raise Concerns Over Valero's Proposed Crude Oil By Rail Through Benicia

A proposal to transport crude oil by rail through Benicia is not sitting well with residents, who came out in full force to a Tuesday night city planning commission meeting to discuss it.

The chances of the trains being derailed and something disastrous occurring is why residents are concerned with the proposal. Those who oppose the plan have until the end of October to let the city and Valero know their concerns.

During a special session at city hall late Tuesday, Valero pitched its crude-by-rail project to a packed house.

If approved, the refinery can receive up to 70,000 barrels of crude oil per day by rail, instead of by ship. The route would begin in Roseville and end at the refinery. In addition, the route will not replace the crude currently received through pipeline.

Valero said the use of rail is the only way to get the oil.

"The crude that we bring in by rail would offset the crude we bring from foreign sources that we bring by ship," said Chris Howe of Valero.

The proposal, for resident Christine Caulder, is a risky proposition. Caulder attended Tuesday's meeting and spoke as a concerned parent.

"When the air is so toxic you can go outside, I really can't go to their school or I'm worried who's sick or who's not," she said.

No actions on the project were taken by city leaders on Tuesday. Three more public hearings are scheduled -- one on Wednesday and two more in October.

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